All posts filed under: Articles

Let’s talk about the need for toilets in India.

Have you had the toilet conversation yet? If you’re traveling or living in India it’s bound to happen. Here you’re totally allowed to talk about what goes on in the loo. Everyone feels the need at some point. How does that water spray thingy on the side work? Is it really better to squat than to sit down? No toilet paper, really? The Indian loo raises a lot of questions for foreigners, but since a few years toilets have become a topic for Indians too. Or rather, not having a toilet has finally become a topic. Over 600 million Indians are forced to defecate out in the open, because they don’t have a toilet in their house. Public toilets are few and the ones that are there are often poorly maintained. Slum dwellers prefer to find a spot in the bushes or along side the railway tracks. Recently I was invited to spend a day with Dr. Pathak of the Sulabh Foundation. His foundation has been the leading force, for many years, behind bringing toilets …

Love and sex in Khajuraho

  Drawn by the promise of explicit sex scenes carved from sand stone, millions of tourists come to Khajuraho every year. The temples of Khajaraho weren’t discovered until the British ruled the country and an English man was sent out to map India’s most central state; Madhya Pradesh. Thanks to T S Burt’s discovery in 1838, shopkeepers, restaurant owners and rickshaw drivers today can make a living from the hordes of tourists that come to this otherwise sleepy town. I can only imagine what it must have felt like for this proper English gentleman to uncover the carvings from thick jungle branches. Did they make him blush? For even the most liberal thinkers some scenes are quite shocking. Even the little book that I picked up for 60 rupees at the entree seems to struggle with promoting the monument. Out of all the pictures of the temple in the book, not one of them shows a couple having sex. Though there are many on the temples and all the tourist try their best to located …

Udaipur’s cenotaphs remember lost loved ones and cruel traditions

A Cenotaph is structure that is build to remember someone after they die. It doesn’t actually hold a person’s remains. It’s meant as a beautiful memorial. I didn’t know this before I visited the Cenotaph site in Ahar located less than three kilometres away from Udaipur’s city centre. Hardly 15 minutes if you take a rickshaw from the City Palace, you’ll find this amazing place filled with white marble structures of different sizes and designs. When a member of the Maharaja’s family dies they are cremated here. Since five-generation Mr. Ravi Rathore’s family has had the honour to prepare the cremation of the royals of the Mewar Kingdom. Today Ravi is the site’s caretaker and incidental guide if you catch him at the right time. After wondering around with my camera for about an hour I was lucky enough to run into Ravi. His stories made these old structures and the people they commemorate come to life for me. When the Maharaja -Udaipur still has a royal family- or one of his family members dies …

When Nakshatra goes out for a coffee with his mother, they’re both on the look-out for cute men.

Web artikel voor Love Matters een website van Radio Netherlands Worldwide op 16 mei 2013 When Nakshatra goes out for a coffee with his mother, they’re both on the look-out for cute men. “Do you fancy that guy?” she’ll say. Things haven’t always been this way. Growing up in a village, he became aware of his feelings aged 16. A year later, after a move to Mumbai, he told his parents he was gay. His mum said she wished he was dead.

The Maldives; a country without justice

Can you imagine a country without a court? That’s how we were, says Aishath Velezinee. As a member of the Judicial Service Commission she was in charge of reforming the Maldives’ judicial system after years of dictatorship. But the country’s brief period of democracy didn’t last. This February democratically elected president Nasheed was ousted in a coup.  “Before we elected Nasheed we removed a dictator,” Velezinee says, “but we failed to remove his regime.”

Trying to find the truth behind US drone strikes

  It was on the 23 of January 2009 that newly elected President of the United States Barack Obama commissioned his first drone strike. Three days after his inauguration he continued to follow the policy that was started under George W. Bush. According to American intelligence it was a successful attack, killing 10 to 14 militants. For Fahim Qureshi, an grade 8 student at the time, it was the day his life would change. What US intelligence claimed to be a militant hide out, was Farhim’s house. He stays there with his family who, he claims, have no ties to Taliban or any other militant group. The young boy lost three of his uncles, a cousin close to his age and three neighbours. Shrapnel struck Fahim and went straight through his stomach. Another piece hit his eye, which he lost, leaving a big scar.